TAMSUI-KAVALAN TRAILS: SHUANGXI to DALI (淡蘭古道北路:雙溪/貢寮/草嶺古道/大里)

The first several kilometres of this trail follows a road from Shuangxi to Gongliao and a little beyond, then the rest climbs over the hills that separate Gongliao from the coast. Both sections are enjoyable – you get a window into contemporary rural life for the first part, and some lovely historic trail scenery for the remainder, but for those who aren’t a fan of road walking it might be best to get off the train at Gongliao instead of at Shuangxi.

DISTANCE: About 17km.

TIME: I spent 6¼ hours walking this section, if you wanted to go quicker you could, but I imagine most people would prefer to go a little slower in order to take it all in.

TOTAL ASCENT: About 430 metres to a top elevation of 371m at the saddle along Caoling Historic Trail.

DIFFICULTY (REGULAR TAIWAN HIKERS): 3/10 for both distance and elevation gain, way finding is easy and the trail surfaces are all well maintained.

DIFFICULTY (NEW HIKERS): 5/10 – mostly for length, (this much road walking can be surprisingly tough on your feet), but you could cut it shorter by starting from Gongliao. Also, you’re likely to find this a lot harder if you attempt it in the hotter summer months.

SIGNAGE: The trail signage along this part of the route is generally clear, and it would be near-impossible to go wrong on the Caoling Trail portion.

FOOD AND WATER: I drank about 2.5L, but because of the trail having a couple of places where you can pick up water I still ended up bringing about 1.5L home. Food-wise, this trail really doesn’t have many places to stock up along the way. You can get supplies at both ends in Shuangxi and Dali (there is a food court in the temple at that end of the trail). If you want to take a detour into Gongliao you should be able to find a couple of small local restaurants, but don’t expect them to be open outside of lunch hours.

SHADE: The only well shaded section was the climb up the the saddle along Caoling Historic Trail, the rest was very sunny.

MOBILE NETWORK: There is pretty good coverage between Shuangxi and Yuanwangkeng Park, but between there and Dali is patchy.

ENJOYMENT: I absolutely loved the road section of this walk, the train and river views were unexpectedly lovely. Likewise I was pleasantly surprised to find Caoling Historic Trail more enjoyable than it was in my memory.

OTHER: You can expect Caoling Historic Trail to be very busy on weekends and holidays.


  • Shuangxi Train Station (雙溪火車站)
  • Shuangxi Old Street (雙溪老街)
  • Lu Ancestral Shrine (呂氏孝思堂)
  • Baomin Temple (保民殿)
  • Gongliao (貢寮)
  • Dexin Temple (德心宮)
  • Yuanwangkeng Riverside Park (遠望坑新水公園)
  • Caoling Historic Trail (草嶺古道)
  • Falling Horse Bridge (跌死馬橋)
  • Xianjiyan or Fairy Print Rock (仙跡岩)
  • Boldly Quell the Wild Mists Inscription (雄鎮蠻煙)
  • Tiger Tablet (虎子碑)
  • Caoling Trail Saddle and Tudi Gong (草嶺古道埡口土地公廟)
  • Dali Tiangong Temple (大里天公廟)
  • Dali (大里)


  • Shuangxi to Gongliao – the whole of this is along the road but don’t let that put you off. There is plenty of interest to enjoy along the way, from old houses, to temples and beautiful scenes of farmland.
  • Gongliao to Dali – this is what most people do, since it is both one of the most famous trails in all of northern Taiwan and also the oldest original section of the Tamsui-Kavalan Trails (TKT).

SOLO HIKE-ABILITY: The whole of this trail is pretty safe to walk alone in terms of hiking hazards, just make sure to avoid getting hit by passing motorists on the bends. Personally I always feel a little more vulnerable walking along rural roads than I do on trails, but I think that is more the vestigial fear that all women carry around with them rather than anything else.


GPX file available here.


Numbers by photos refer to the GPS coordinates at the end of the post.

09:28 – The last time I arrived at Shuangxi Station I headed straight for the bus queue, but not this time. Since I’d already brought provisions with me, I just needed to make use of the station toilets (outside and to the left of the station), before getting started. (1) Head straight out of the station and turn left onto Zhonghua Road. The street was busy with people taking a late breakfast, or buying vegetables, and pedestrians seemed to have right of way. Keep on Zhonghua Road as it curves right, padding the red brick facade of Shuangxi’s surviving blacksmith store (there used to be two, but the other one literally went under after a flood damaged the equipment). This early in the morning it was still closed, but the last time I passed it was open for business, a forbidding array of farm and kitchen implements on display, and a couple of older gentlemen sat on stools by the doorway. One of them was the owner, and although now in his later years, he has been a blacksmith since he first took up the tools of the trade at 17 years old.

09:33 – Head over the bridge, turn almost immediately left down the narrow lane just in front of the police station, then head right when the lane reaches an L junction. (Well, it’s kind of a T, but the lefthand arm doesn’t go far.) You could stay on the main road if you preferred, but I wanted to take the back street. At one point there is a gap where a house used to be and you can have a look at the river. (In fact you could also take the steps leading down to the water from the first bridge and follow the path all the way to the second bridge.)

09:36 – The lane arrives at the wider Dongrong Street opposite the squashed-in Sanzhong Temple. To continue on your way towards Dali you’ll need to head left, but it’s worth having a quick look around the area near the temple first. The temple sits on Shuangxi Old Street, which is both short and genuinely old, (not renovated like the old streets you can see in places like Sanxia and Shenkeng). At the top end is the temple, and the bottom end is hemmed in by the river and the old ferry pier. Back when this route was used primarily by traders, goods and people travelled along the river from the lower estuary, possibly as far as Mudan. Since Shuangxi was more or less the halfway point between the cities of Taipei and Yilan, a thriving community established itself to serve the needs of travellers. You could pray for safe passage, eat, sleep, get medicine and even have your shoes repaired all in this area around the ferry pier.

A brief detour from the trail will bring you to Lin Yi-he Hall (林益和堂),a traditional Chinese medicine store which has been in operation since 1874, (although the current facade looks like it probably dates back to the period of Japanese rule). When it was established, the shop garnered much support from the local community for its practise of making medicines within the means of poor people who may otherwise have been unable to buy them. It’s still in business as a TCM shop, and visitors are welcome to go inside, however I’ve read that the owner isn’t a huge fan of people photographing the inside of his store without permission.

09:39 – Walking away from the temple take Dongrong Street and follow it over Dongrong Bridge (東榮大橋). Look right here and you can spot the confluence of the Mudan and Pinglin Rivers, these two rivers are the town’s namesake. Once you leave the village, you’ll stay on the same road all the way to Gongliao. You’ll cross under the the railway, then walk between the school and Gongliao Children’s Park, (there are toilets here in case you didn’t make use of those at the train station – just remember to take your own toilet paper).

09:57 – The road more or less follows the meandering Shuangxi River on it’s way towards the coast, at times moving away, at others hugging tight. Here I found the collection of three life-vests and rings on the far bank somewhat amusing, and almost equally sinister. It was is they were conspiring together about something.

10:00 – Just a short distance out of the town I came across the first roadside land god temple, this one a Fude Ci set a little away from the road and up a short flight of steps. There was a neighbourhood litter picker sat on the wall by the temple taking a break and playing on his phone, so I was slightly hesitant to walk up at first, but then I noticed this beautiful painted decoration and decided I had to overcome my nerves to see it properly. Although I’ve seen temples with a red lintel before, I believe it is the first time I have seen one with this style of painting. It puts me in mind of the floral patterns you see painted on narrowboats in the UK. I needn’t have worried about disturbing the cleaner, he was so engrossed in his game that he barely registered my presence.

10:12 – After the temple the road climbs a shallow hill, taking a shortcut which turns away from the meandering river. At the high point you can catch a glimpse of trains as they dash between two tunnels. This must be a small pleasure that many people have enjoyed indulging in since there are a couple of benches where you can sit and wait until you start to hear the tracks singing of an approaching engine.

10:21 – Dipping down again, the road continues through more farmland. One house on the right of the trail has a tea urn set up by the side of the road for passersby to help themselves to.

I tend to hike with a mug clipped to my backpack, so I poured myself a cup to enjoy whilst watching farm life play out in the fields. Spindly betel nut trees rose in front of banana palms, spiky arms of dragon fruit plant were draped over trestles and had even colonised the lamppost – the variety of plants being grown was huge. A couple of people were tending to some crops and as I was finishing my tea a local train trundled by on its way to Gongliao.

10:24 – Look to the right the you approach the above junction and you will spot a stunning example of Hakka architecture. Although the trail continues along the same road, make sure you take the same detour down the track on the right to have a look at this beautiful building.

This is the Lü family’s ancestral shrine (呂氏孝思堂), and it has stood on this spot in one form or another for over 100 years. The central stone structure that you can see today was built in 1928 to replace the thatched building that which originally housed the spirit tablets of the Lü family’s ancestors. Over the years work has been done to fortify the walls, repair the roof and extend the structure.

Although there is a gate preventing you from walking inside, it’s possible to take a look. The interior is sparse but beautiful, and for those well versed in Hakka culture and reading Chinese it is possible to pick up clues as to the family’s history from the various plaques and texts on display, (I am not so gifted and could only enjoy the surface level information).

Standing as if looking out from the doorway you have an almost perfect pastoral view of paddy fields stretching towards the distant hills, with the railway cutting an elevated straight line through the scene.

After getting back to the main road, the route locks back in step with the water for a while making for some really pretty scenes. The road undulates with the same gentleness that the water meanders, and the overall effect is wonderfully soothing.

10:38 – On one of the rises, a simple paifang on the left marks to the entrance to Baomin Temple. It also happens to double up as the area’s emergency assembly point.

The temple sits back against the slope behind it, the vivid greens of the grass and betel nut trees beautifully offsetting the orange roof in the sun of early summer. I noticed a sign saying that there were toilets downstairs, and it seems that a patrolling police officer had stopped by to use them. I went to have a look inside, and ended up in a short conversation with a tea-drinking local. He asked where I was walking to and from, then asked if I’d walked it before, I told him a half truth, saying that I had, (actually I’d only walked part of this trail before), and he nodded his permission for me to continue.

10:44 – As soon as you rejoin the road you should spot a mossy-roofed Fude Temple.

Inside there are two seating and smiling deities. From their thrones they have a clear view of the street leading back towards Shuangxi.

I waited for some time by this rail bridge over the river, hoping to get a photo of a train on its way across. After about 10 minutes one came by, but I was using my 35mm camera, not my phone. When I continued around the bend, I ran into a crew which looked like they were probably doing some maintenance work milling around their trucks. They all stared at me and one made a noise of surprise. There was a slightly strange energy to the gathering, but I couldn’t work out why until I got closer and saw that they were all standing a safe distance away from a youngish guy who had his arms outstretched, hands about 1m away from each other, firmly grasping a snake. “眼鏡蛇” someone said from behind me, causing me instantly to change my course to give the man and the snake a wider berth. This is one of only a handful of Mandarin snake names that I know: cobra. The man’s expression was strained, and I wondered how long he had been holding it, how he had ended up holding it, and how they were planning to separate man and snake safely. It’s not the first time I’ve come across the Chinese cobra, but this one was by far the largest – maybe 120cm long and chunky, about as wide as one of the cardboard tubes that toilet roll comes on. Months later, I still wonder about what became of the man and his cobra.

10:59 – The next landmark to catch my attention were these farmhouse ruins to the right side of the road. I can’t find any information related to them online, so it seems they are not particularly significant.

Although most of the land below the road is inhabited or cultivated, there are odd pockets here and there which seem to have been left alone.

11:07 – Near the bright green meadow there is a medium-sized roadside temple. This one is dedicated to 福祿壽, the Three Star Gods, (or Fu, Lu and Shou, or the Three Stars of Wealth, Status and Longevity, Sanxing or Three Star Door Gods – they’ve been around for a while so they have quite a few names). You’ve certainly seen them many times already – they’re the ones who grace the top of most Taoist temples.

Inside it looks like the Three Stars have ceded some of their altar space to a couple of other gods.

From just beyond the the Fu, Lu and Shou’s temple the train tracks rejoin the road, and the two run parallel until the point when you cross under the road on the far side of Gongliao. In the photo, a Puyuma express train speeds by on its way to the east coast.

The final stretch of road into Gongliao hugged tight to the train tracks. The occasional car and scooter passed me by, but for the most part I was able to walk in the middle of the road. A motorcycle postie pootled past me twice on one of those heavy-duty SYM scooters that are in the process of being replaced by electric models. He first passed me heading in the direction I’d come from, then several minutes later he returned back and disappeared towards Gongliao. Then a couple more minutes later he returned and pulled up next to me waving a new mask. I assume/hope that things will have changed by the time anyone is reading this, but when I made this journey Taiwan had made face masks a requirement on public transport in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19, so of course I had one with me, but since I was walking on a rural road I had taken it off. He asked me if I needed one, and seemed relieved when I said I had one but didn’t see the point of wearing it when I was a long way from anywhere. He then wanted to make sure that I knew where I was going (that’s a very long way, you won’t get there until afternoon), and that I had enough food and water (there aren’t any places to get food here). I did all I could to reassure him that I was prepared and aware of how far I would need to travel, explaining that I was in the process of trying to walk the old trails between Taipei and Yilan, by this point he was looking really quite relieved – presumably he was now content that he could scooter off without bearing the guilt of hearing in the news that a foreigner had succumbed to thirst or starvation on his watch.

The trains thundered past at strange intervals. Nothing for fifteen minutes, then three almost all at once, the blast of their horn and the urgency of the wheels clattering along the track quickening my heart beat each time.

11:29 – Set back a little on the left of the road there is another temple. The chipped red lettering above the cover reads “有求必應”, a sign that this is a You Ying Gong Temple, (one that was built to house normally unknown remains discovered in the locality).

On the way into Gongliao there are a few buildings that look like they have seen better days, this one included. I can’t work out for sure what this rusting piece of machinery is, but suggestions from Twitter have included a rice milling machine and a feed mixer:

11:33 – Gongliao Station is on the right side of the main road, the station hall and space outside was populated with plenty of locals waiting for the next northbound train. (2)

The street that the station sits on is basically just half of the town, the other half (including Gongliao Old Street) is on the far side of the water. What most struck me about this place was that it is basically a child’s drawing of a town made real: the train station is next to the police and fire station, the local government office is just a little further along, then a small store selling rice and eggs – all the essential amenities gathered together.

Leaving Gongliao behind keep on the same road you pass a rubbish truck depot, and just beyond that you get a view downstream towards where the path is headed.

11:42 – As you near Gongliao Elementary School look out for the TKT logo on the road barrier then head right and underneath the railway tracks. From here on out, the trail splits from the railway, (until you meet it again at Dali).

At the far side of the underpass the road splits left and right. Both roads rejoin after a while, but I was curious about some melodic bird whistles coming from the righthand road and I wanted to walk along the water, so I headed that way.

Here the Shuangxi River is wide and gentle, and seemingly shallow enough for fishermen to set up stools in the middle of the water.

A little further along there is another old house to the left of the road, this one looks like it has fallen into disuse only relatively recently.

From in front of the old house you can catch your first glimpse of the magnificent Dexin Temple (德心宮). The trail passes in front of the building, but it’s a good place to stop, refill water bottles and go to the toilet. Also, make sure to go take a closer look at the female guard lion statue visible at the front, unlike most (where you might spot her guarding a single cub), this one has a whole litter of playful young lions clambering over over and around her.

11:57 – The Mazu deity that resides inside Dexin Temple was transported to Taiwan from the Meizhou Island’s Heavenly Empress Palace-Meizhou Ancestral Temple, the original shrine that was set up to worship the Fujian shaman-turned-goddess in her alleged birthplace. This journey is said to have taken place in the Qianlong period (so somewhere between 1735 and 1796), and that earliest iteration of the temple was probably a simple thatched structure. The first stone structure on the site was erected in 1838, and it underwent many additions and extensions over the years until it was taken out by Typhoon Nari, (a devastating late typhoon in September 2001 – if you go to Ximen Station you might notice a small memorial indicating the the flood level on escalators between the lower and upper platforms). Miraculously, the Mazu statue was not washed away or damaged despite being submerged, and to honour this fact the temple management decided to rebuild in the same location.

The inside is beautiful in every detail, from the polished floors all the way up the the carved wooden beams of the roof. As I was taking a look, a guy shuffled over from washing his mug at the sink area to walk back into the temple proper. We had a short chat about where I was from and where I was headed, followed by the (evidently) obligatory check that I had walked it before and knew where to go. After he disappeared inside I made use of their hot water machine and made myself a coffee. As I was sorting my bag out a woman wandered over from the far side of the temple and the man came out to tell her that a foreigner had passed through on their way to Caoling Historic Trail – it seems I was the most interesting thing to pass through since they last spoke. I startled the guy when I said I was still there, but on my way off, and maybe leaving them with the false impression that I understood Taiwanese.

Continuing along the road the land to either side levels out into farms, and I came across a flock of people who (even from quite a distance) were easily distinguishable as being birders. If it wasn’t the mix of neutral-coloured practical clothes, or the mass of tripods and long, long lenses, then it was the fact that they were all staring curiously, intently at a shrub. Being curious sort myself (or nosy if you ask Teresa), I asked what kind of bird they were hoping to see – “黑頭鵐” came the answer. Not a bird I’d heard of before, so I looked it up and found out that its English name is black-headed bunting and it’s a jazzy looking little thing.

12:19 – Keep on this road as it crosses over the Shuangxi River, then turn left on to main road and cross Xinshe Bridge.

At the far side of Xinshe Bridge there is a Fude Gong temple on the left of the road next to some traffic lights. Turn right across the road here and head up the smaller lane, (Yuanwangkeng Street).

The road follows the stream (Yuanwangkeng Stream) a kilometre or two up to Yuanwangkeng Park. (At least the naming is consistent.)

The road was quite and I saw very little traffic. Even most of the houses showed few signs of life. This message painted on the wall of a no-longer-inhabited building caught my attention. “我叫小白,別叫我小黑’, (“My name is Little White, don’t call me Little Black”) it is a poignant reminder of a dog who once lived there, presumably (if I know anything about Taiwanese dog naming conventions) a big black dog.

12:30 – At the side of the road there is another shrine, this one dedicated to Kaiji Lao Da Gong (開基老大公). This should be a shrine for paying respects to descendent-less ghosts – I know there is a very large and famous temple of the same name in Keelung, but I’m not sure if this small one is affiliated with that.

12:36 – The wind on this section of road was unreasonably strong, repeatedly yanking the umbrella I was carrying for shade inside out. Keep on the main road as you pass a bridge to the left. (The last time I walked Caoling Historical Trail I headed over the bridge towards Fulong.)

Just around the bend is another land god temple, this one with Fude Tang (福德堂) written over the entrance.

The lintel style of this one is different, more angular, and the bearded god had an impressive array of incense and candle burners.

12:44 – The temple looks towards Yuanwangkeng River Park’s toilets, to keep going you can either continue along the road or head to the back of the toilets and take the path through the park. I always prefer paths to roads, so that’s exactly what I did.

The park is a very pleasant green and watery space, the river flows through the easternmost edge and paddy fields border it to the west.

Sat a way back from the path and behind two lily ponds there is another temple, this one a smidge larger than most of the same style. Interestingly it was devoid of both a deity or any writing that might hint at its purpose.

12:54 – If you follow the main path through the park you’ll end up rejoining the road next to the park’s bus stop. Head left towards a car parking area.

03:31 – After a few more minutes of walking the road crosses the water again, and then splits in two. Take the lower right of the two which follows close to the stream.

13:01 – On the left side of the road there is a shrine, this one had Baixing Gong/百姓公 written on a plaque on the back wall and a scattering of offerings across the altar. Like a couple of the others passed on this route, this one has been built to house the bones of the deceased who are for whatever reason unable to be buried at home.

I was curious to see that the usual incense offerings had been overtaken by cigarettes. It’s not uncommon to see hikers offer cigarettes in rural or wild locations*, but I’ve never seen an incense holder so full of them.

*Indeed, I’ve heard more than once that if you’re lost in the forest, you ought to have a pack of cigarettes and a lighter with you so that you can make an impromptu offering to whatever spirit is benighting your way-finding abilities.

13:03 – I noticed some steps heading down to the water’s edge and decided it looked like the perfect spot to take a short break.

My feet were feeling tired from all the road walking, and the promise of cool water was mighty inviting. I don’t take the chance to sit sit and get my shoes off half as often as I should.

I spent maybe 30 minutes here enjoying the cool water and eating some snacks. This was pretty much the longest single break I took on this walk.

13:25 – Once I’d booted up again, I continued up the road until the start of the proper trail part of Caoling Old Trail. It is announced by a plethora of signs around the entrance, and even on the road surface, so it’s almost impossible to miss. Turn left here and start climbing the steps. (4)

Right by the trail head there’s another area that’s good for stopping and paddling.

It was a small relief to get out of the sun and under the shade of some trees, but since the trail goes steadily upwards, I found myself heating up even more than I had been in the sun.

13:46 – In a clearing to the right of the trail you will come across the first of two third grade national monuments along this section of the TKT, the “Boldly Quell” inscription. Four characters – “雄鎮蠻煙” – are engraved on the face of a boulder, the English translation of which is generally given as “Boldly Quell the Wild Mists.” Now a third-grade national historic site, the characters were engraved in 1867 by Liu Ming-deng (劉明燈 – the same person who is responsible for the Jinzibei inscription near Houtong), whilst he was journeying towards Yilan. The story goes that Liu, a general in the army, was patrolling the area when he encountered thick and perilous mists. There were many contemporaneous tales of travellers and traders who had lost their way, tricked by the fog to leave the safety of the trail, only to fall to their deaths in the steep and rugged terrain. Suspecting that evil mountain spirits were to blame, Liu carved the four characters onto the rock beside the trail in order to weaken them. Evidently it worked, as I’ve had pretty good weather every time I’ve passed by (no, it’s got absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I check the weather reports before going).

This was the second time I’d walked Caoling Historical Trail, the first time I’d walked it in reverse, from Dali over to Fulong, but I am pretty sure that we walked it the wrong way. Walking from Fulong or Gongliao towards the sea just seemed to be far more pleasant. The climb is more shaded, and then you get to enjoy the views of the ocean as you head down on the far side.

13:59 – As you near the top there is a rest stop and some toilets on the right of the trail. (The toilets are hidden a little way down in the trees.) The wall of the cubicle I used had been decorated with: “事雖小,不做是不會成的。Talk is cheap.” I asked Teresa why, and she said that it is just a thing, ‘toilet sayings’ are not uncommon. As usual, I can’t quite work out whether she is pulling my leg or not.

The wind at the top got pretty strong, far strong than it’s ever been on any of the other occasions I’ve been up here. I had to have two hand on my umbrella, but even then it kept tugging me this way and that.

14:13 – Just before you reach the saddle, the path takes you past the second of Liu Ming-deng’s engravings that you’ll encounter along this stretch of the TKT. This stone is known as the Tiger Tablet due to the large character engraved in the centre – it is an older form of the Chinese character for tiger. Much like the Boldly Quell stone just down the hill Liu was spurred on the engrave this as a reaction to bad weather conditions. The most widely given theory is that Liu took inspiration from the saying: “all clouds follow the dragon, all winds follow the tiger, and all saintly deeds shall be witnessed by all beings of the world,” and that the stone is an attempt to fend off the winds. This seems to have been less successful than the mist repelling, as the pass is almost always incredibly, fiercely gusty.

The view back down the valley never fails to impress me, here you can just see the top of the Tiger Inscription Stone before the path curves behind a fold in the slope.

When I arrived there was a couple at the pavilion a little further up at the start of the Taoyuan Valley Trail, but they were soon driven off by the wind. I took refuge in the shelter built around this Fude Ci Temple for a short rest and snack (the last of my cheese straws). Despite passing through several times, this is the first that I’ve noticed the Tiger God (虎爺) tucked into the space beside the incense burner. It had been left three white eggs, more food than the three other gods had between them.

From the pass, head straight over and down. Starting my descent merely confirmed my suspicion that walking the trail in this direction was way more fun. Just look at that see view beckoning you on down. There are actually two ways to walk down, you can either follow the winding road, or you can take the path that cuts more or less straight down through each hairpin bend.

One section of the trail looks particularly historic. Here you can see the three-stone-wide pattern that is quite common in some corners of Yangmingshan National Park. Perhaps this is the oldest remaining section of the original trail. It’s only for a very brief distance though, and then a more recent construction style returns.

14:35 – At a clearing about a quarter of the way down from the saddle you’ll find the ruins of an old inn. The walls are so collapsed and the plant growth so vigorous that it’s hard to even make out the rough outline of the buildings. Known as Lu’s House Inn (盧家客棧), this would have been an important resting spot on the journey offering weary travellers food and a bed for the night. I didn’t spot them myself, but apparently if you search you can see stone blocks with holes in them which would have been used to tie up livestock.

14:38 – At the last pavilion before finishing the trail I took out my fruit and finished it off whilst looking over the coast.

At the end of the steps turn right and follow signs towards the temple. The final portion of the trail is a dirt track which later becomes a road at some point.

15:17 – Some picnic tables, a large tree and a kind of fountain mark the entrance to Tiangong Temple complex (previously called Caoling Qingyun Temple).

Head through the rows of standing stones to reach the temple. (5)

15:22 – Inside the rear hall of the temple complex there were a couple of people praying, one mother had brought her daughter along, and both were kneeling in front of the gods. The little girl, maybe four or five, was watching and copying her mother’s pose and serious expression.

There are toilets and water available to the left of this temple in the Dali Visitor Centre as you face it, and food vendors on the lower level, (I imagine there are more of them on weekends and holidays).

If you head down towards the road you will find the lower hall.

Head through the archway and turn right towards the station.

15:31 – To avoid crossing the busy road you can take the steps heading under it.

The station is just another 100m away along the path to the right, but I wanted to take a quick look at the sea first.

The beach here isn’t as inviting as that in either Fulong or Wai’ao, but it is pretty all the same.

15:38 – By the time I got to the station I was very ready for a sit down, there was a wait before the next train to Taipei arrived, but only 15 minutes or so, and I was back in the city in time for dinner.


Google Maps address: This walk starts at Shuangxi Train Station, and finishes at Dali Train Station. To finish the walk earlier, or start the walk half way you would have to catch a train to or from Gongliao Train Station.

GPS location:

  1. Shuangxi Train Station – N25 02.310 E121 51.990
  2. Gongliao Station – N25 01.305 E121 54.520
  3. Dexin Temple – N25 00.955 E121 55.120
  4. Caoling Historic Trail (Gongliao trail head) – N24 59.690 E121 55.605
  5. Caoling Historic Trail (Dali trail head) – N24 58.230 E121 55.530

Public transport:

  • To start at Shuangxi you’ll need to get on one of the local trains that leave from the theee Taipei stations every 30-50 minutes.
  • Likewise, to return to Taipei just get on one of the northbound trains from Gonliao or Dali.

Further reading:

Come and say hi on social media:

This is the bit where I come to you cap in hand. If you’ve got all the way down this page, then I can only assume that you’re actually interested in the stuff I write about. If this is the case and you feel inclined to chip in a few dollars for transport and time then I would appreciate it immensely. You can find me on either Ko-fi or Buy Me a Coffee.

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